Stonington Diaries week 2

As our team are conserving Base E on Stonington Island we will be updating live diary entries from the team. #StoningtonDiaries will keep you up to date with what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen with this remarkable base. 

All images from 1948 have been reproduced courtesy of the British Antarctic Survey Archives Service. © Crown

08 January 1948
Base E Journal

Freeman and Jones spend the day clearing up the clothing store. Elliott and Walton brought some “candies” in from the sea ice where RARE had dumped them. We are going to pack them up for the other bases. Coding and decoding off ice reports occupied two men for 1 ½ hours. Dog feeding, water fetching and other jobs kept the rest of the personnel pretty busy.

 

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08 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

Old and new faces have been thrilled by the scenery of the peninsula as the stunning towering peaks, glaciers, ice cliffs and feeding humpback whales happily fill the camera lenses of our team. Our good fortune with the weather and open seas continued as we crossed the Antarctic Circle. Passaging southwards down the west coast of Adelaide Island and into Marguerite Bay where we did not stop until positioning ourselves opposite Blaiklock Hut. From the bridge of HMSP the hut appears to have stood the test of time very well since being erected in 1957, only some bits of felt are missing on the walls otherwise it has the overall appearance of being sound. The old dog sledge still sat closely to the west wall, we all agree a closer examination of this Hut is a must!!

 

09 January 1948
Base E Journal

Jones started packing the aircraft stores for return to Britain. Thomson and Tonkin dug out the dog chains and then cleaned and drilled them ready for new springs. McLeod made the new springs, and then started making an extension for the table in the living room. Choyce pored over met. results all day. Freeman and Francis got together in a huddle over surveying. Walton tidied up the hangar and Elliott packed the candies he collected yesterday. Stonehouse has reappeared in our midst from Red Rock Ridge. Much as we like him. Crowded as we are, his space was much preferred to his presence. (we don’t really mean that.)

Photo of Stonehouse (left) has been reproduced courtesy of the British Antarctic Survey Archives Service. ©Crown

09 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

Ahead of the teams arrival at Rothera Research Station this afternoon the boys have set up a make shift barbers shop in Jo's en-suite. Torbjorn and Al have given each other a soon to be extremely cold grade 0 cut and Al gave Torbjorn a matching goatee, which he sported for about half an hour before shaving that off too. Let's hope they have lots of hats to keep them warm until it all grows back!

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10 January 1948
Base E Journal

Several stalwart citizens have been working on the pile of next year’s coal. The top layers were easily moved once the snow and tarpaulin had been removed. The bottom three layers however were fixed in ice. All the loose sacks were piled on the stones ready for storing under the Nissen, and the rest left to the mercies of the sun. Everyone then stripped and threw buckets of water at each other, it being a very warm day.

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10 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

Today the team enjoyed a quiet day exploring the British Antarctic Survey's (BAS) Rothera Research Station, while stores and fuel were unloaded from HMS Protector.  Based on Adelaide Island, Rothera is BAS's largest Antarctic station, along with being a significant logistical hub for supporting deep field science further into the continent.  Rothera should be our final stop before moving onto Stonington later in the week!

#StoningtonDiaries

11 January 1948
The Base E Journal

This morning we started work on the coal pile, or rather, recover most of the coal. We also made desultory attempts to free some more sacks from yesterdays work. Thomson has been industriously painting himself, the bathroom and the dinghy. The sea ice near the tide crack in front of the house has broken up into pans and is now floating round in a little pond of open water. The rest of the sea ice, up to a line from Millerand to Red Rock Ridge, is still solid although it is rotting fast. Beyond, there seems to be tight pack and bergs for as far as the eye can see from 4000 ft. on a clear day. We have decided to have a free day tomorrow, purely because we haven’t had one for a long time.

#StoningtonDiaries Photo of Thomson 1948 has been reproduced courtesy of the British Antarctic Survey Archives Service ©Crown

 

 

11 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

This was the last chance for the team to take a day off before the next frantic phase of our journey, when we leave Rothera and sail for Stonington and establish our new home. It turned out to be an action-packed day, first up a visit to the Rothera Research Station shop for last minute souvenirs and post cards home. Next was the annual HMSP vs BAS Rothera football match. It was a close fought contest which ended in a goalless draw when the pitch was invaded by a twin otter bringing the latest batch of scientists (the pitch was the large area of hard standing outside the hangar). Post-match entertainment took the form of a joint HMSP and BAS BBQ which was held on the main deck amongst our cargo ready for offloading. We all made the most of the fantastic spread of food and walked it off with a guided tour around the Rothera peninsula where we saw elephant seals on the beach. Some were fast asleep whilst others were sparring with each other amongst the brash ice. We were all glad to get to bed and finally have the rest which we had all hoped for at the start of the day. 

12 January 1948
Base E Journal

The free day started well this morning in the usual way of free days in this country. The tide crack under the seals started to float out, and some of the carcasses fell into the water. We put in an hour’s hard work in blazing sunshine, hauling them out and further up the beach. Then Walton and Elliott spotted some live seals on the ice and went out after them with a dog team. They got seven altogether. Then some of the dogs broke loose and had to be tethered again. Then we relaxed on the roof, but found it uncomfortably hot, and had to go inside. 

#StoningtonDiaries

12 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

It has been a gay morning at Rothera, the day that we will finally set sail to complete our long journey South. The team has been doing last preparations of our stores, including a guided tour of the Rothera Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. Later this evening we can hopefully lay our eyes upon our final destination; the historic buildings at Stonington Island.

#StoningtonDiaries

13 January 1948
Base E Journal

Amongst the doings of the day were the following: Securing a steel cable and putting 26 dog chains on it for our teams when they get back. Sorting out the sledging stores. Moving all the stick fish from the ration store so that it could dry in the sun, and putting some of the sledging rations in the lean-to. One of the Hope Bay dogs had a bad tooth which needed pulling. Butson used chloroform on it, which killed it immediately. He is very upset about it, but he couldn’t have known what the effect would have been, especially as the dogs take about 3 times as much ether to put them under as a human. 

#StoningtonDiaries

13 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

After such a long time at sea, yesterday we were excited to finally set foot on Stonington Island and begin to set up our new home. All were pleased with the calm weather conditions as we launched from HMS Protector and crossed Neny Fjord in the Zodiac. The day was busy with the off load of cargo (almost 5 tonnes of equipment) and countless journeys across the island through deep snow, so we were extremely grateful for the support of the Navy. However, as the day progressed wind speeds reached 55 knots and the task of erecting sleeping tents was challenging. After a night under canvas, listening to the NE glacier calving into Back Bay, we were up slightly later than planned to great the Navy with aching limbs and to off load the final items – including Michael who had spent a last restful night onboard the Protector. Today we were much relieved that the weather was calm enough to put up our weatherhaven tent, the heart of our camp! With tummies full of pasta and meatballs we are all now ready for a good night’s sleep.

 

14 January 1948
Base E Journal

We heard from Butler this morning. He is at the bottom of Bill’s Gluch, waiting for fine weather before he goes through a crevassed area. He should be here in four or five days. The twelve young bitches were moved from their tethers by the ride crack on to a steel cable up by the rest of the dogs. The generator side of our W/T power unit has broken down now. If it’s not one thing it is another.

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Read what the team got up to in week three of their journey

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